First, I promised to find her a nice Lutheran man. She complained while we were home in Oregon over breaks that the men in Los Angeles that she had met were sleezy, expected sex on the first date, often smoked a lot of marijuana and generally were disappointments. I told her about St. Olaf, the land of corn-fed Midwestern men who love their mothers and are good Lutherans besides (she herself being Lutheran). So where can I possibly find her a corn-fed man? My search began at the Legion on Friday. However, we arrived at midnight, when the event was well underway. Having only been to the Legion in the past after the bar, I was surprised by my new, clear vision. I watched acquaintances and people that I have seen around campus do things that I would not tell my mother about. My friend, who goes to a school with a Greek system, said it reminded her of a fraternity party. Some part of me was relieved that there is a little fragment of Greek life here at St. Olaf.
Second, there was a need to play in the snow. Southern California, at 80 degrees when she left, was a stark contrast to the 20-degree Minneapolis when she landed. As we walked around Uptown in Minneapolis, my friend grasped at my hand as we slipped and slid along the icy sidewalk to dinner. My friend was very concerned she was going to break an arm and those of us who had spent the winter walking on icy sidewalks offered some sage advice. Later we sledded on the thawed-and-refrozen snow, providing a good winter thrill.
As the weather changed over the weekend, my friend witnessed the beginning of spring, symbolized both by the melting of the snow and the changing of the hour early Sunday morning. As the snow melted, revealing brown fields about ready to finally turn green, my friend marveled at the open space. Certainly they do not have fields in L.A., so surely this was a novelty.
We went into downtown Northfield, taking a jaunt down Division. I pointed out all the hangouts Goodbye Blue Mondays, the Contented Cow, the Rueb n Stein and Chapatis. She complimented the cuteness of Northfield.
We also had to make a trip to a typical Midwestern bar. I once heard that our neighbor, Wisconsin, has more bars per capita than any other state. Who can forget that line in "Love Actually?" With the Midwestern bar legacy in mind, we headed to the Tavern Lounge. There, we enjoyed local brews (well, my friend doesn't like beer, so she lost out) and good conversation, sharing stories and discussing the finer points of Midwestern culture.
What my friend's visit taught me was that Northfield, and Minnesota in general, is a very unique place. While I perhaps could have chosen to go to college in Los Angeles, I am not sure I would have had as good an experience as I had here in Minnesota. And while I have decided that Minnesota is not for me (mostly because of the long, cold winters), I think it was worth it.